A series of desilicated ZSM-5 catalysts previously shown to have improved catalytic performance in the MTG (methanol-to-gasoline) reaction [M. Bjorgen, F. Joensen, M.S. Holm, U. Olsbye, K.-P. Lillerud, S. Svelle, Appl. Catal. A 345 (2008) 43] was subjected to thorough examination using FTIR. Clearly, defects represented by internal Si-OH sites are removed upon NaOH treatment. In a parallel manner, free Si-OH sites increase in concentration and the results point to a selective mechanism for formation of mesopores as the framework dissolution preferentially takes place at defective sites in the crystallites. The acid properties of the desilicated materials were investigated by applying CO and collidine (2,4.6-trimethylpyridine) as molecular probes. Monitoring the induced frequency shifts upon CO adsorption at liquid N-2 temperature revealed that the desilication procedure did not alter the acid strength of the Bronsted sites significantly. This weakens the explanation linking improved catalytic behaviour, such as increase in both catalyst activity and hydrogen transfer activity, to modified Bronsted acid strength. Simultaneous to the mesopore formation resulting from the desilication, strong Lewis acid sites were generated, presumably from dislodged framework aluminium. Collidine, which is too bulky to enter the micropore system of ZSM-5, could access Lewis acidity, suggesting that these sites were predominantly generated on the external surface or in the newly created mesopores. Additionally, by first saturating the zeolite surface with collidine and subsequently adsorbing CO, we show that barely any Lewis acidity was uncoordinated post-collidine saturation while the Bronsted acidity continuously was protected behind the micropore system. It is hypothesized from the present study that the desilication procedure can lead to a slight dealumination of the samples while forming Lewis acidity preferentially at the crystal surface.
- NaOH treatment
- Lewis acidity